Care of Influenza (Flu)

Description

Influenza is caused by a viral infection and often occurs in epidemics. Symptoms usually last 3 to 4 days, unless complications develop.

Symptoms

Symptoms of influenza are similar, but slightly different, than those of a cold. They include fever, headache, muscle ache, chills, weakness, cough, sore throat and general fatigue. Nasal congestion and a runny nose are usually not associated with the flu.

Treatment

Self-care is usually the most effective treatment for influenza; professional medical treatment is rarely needed except in the case of complications. Suggestions for self-care are listed below.

  • Rest and stay warm; increase your hours of sleep.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Gargle with warm salt water to ease the discomfort of a sore throat.
  • Use of hard candies or cough drops to soothe a dry throat and to inhibit coughing.
  • Use a vaporizer or steam from the shower to relieve congestion in your head and chest.
  • Take two Tylenol every four or five hours to help relieve fever, aches, and pains. You may also use Ibuprofen in place of Tylonel.
  • Avoid close contact with others and, if possible, curtail normal activities, including physical exercise, until your symptoms disappear.
  • Avoid smoking when you have the flu, as it will cause further irritation to your upper respiratory tract.

Complications

If you experience difficulty breathing, chest pain, earache, and persistent fever over 101 F, or if you develop a deep, mucus-producing cough, you should seek professional medical attention. Additionally, if your illness lasts for more than 4 to 5 days despite good self-care, obtain medical care.

Contagious?

Influenza is highly contagious. Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and avoid close physical contact to prevent infecting others.

Medical Treatment

If your symptoms persist or worsen, medical treatment is available at the Student Health Center at (970) 351-2412.

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